The founder of cocktail delivery service the Drinks Drop has found a lucrative sideline as a result of the pandemic, bringing cocktails from the UK's best-known bars to the home. Caroline Baldwin reports.
Why did you set up the Drinks Drop?
Myself and my business partner, Barrie, are involved in drinks and hospitality, so when lockdown came along in March last year, our distribution business, Highball Brands, became very quiet and we saw first-hand what effect the pandemic was having on our industry as a whole.
It was terrifying to see from an economical standpoint, but also from seeing the bartenders, waiters and front of house staff, who have really sociable jobs, sitting at home with nothing to do.
We came up with the idea of the Drinks Drop using our Highball Brands portfolio and partnering with bars to give us their recipes to create cocktails, and we used out-of-work bartenders to deliver around London and Manchester.
How did you go about creating the business mid-pandemic?
We got it up and running very quickly and by 7 April we had 20 bars involved, which kept our brand owners happy, and we could get some of these bartenders out and about on their bikes. All of the profits were going back to the bars and into those venues – it wasn't a huge amount of money, but it was something positive.
When things reopened over the summer, we saw an opportunity to set it up as a separate business, which we launched in September, and that's when national delivery came online and we got some bigger brands involved and we employed more people.
In Q4 2020 we sold 13,202 cocktails to 2,906 customers and had a 23% returning customer rate. We're still giving back to the industry – 50p from the sale of each cocktail is given back to the bar who created it. We also pay them to sign up because they gave us the recipe and we're using their name.
What are your most popular cocktails?
Our top three cocktails are a watermelon margarita from Manchester-based bar Crazy Pedro's, a plum negroni from Hawksmoor, and an espresso mulatini from Laki Kane.
Our top three cocktails are a watermelon margarita from Crazy Pedro's, a plum negroni from Hawksmoor and an espresso mulatini from Laki Kane
Each cocktail has a QR code on the back, which takes you to a video of the bartender describing the drink – it's not about how you make the cocktail, more about trying to recreate sitting at the bar and talking to the bartender about the flavours.
What is your hope for the reopening of bars?
I can't wait for the industry to reopen – I'm desperate to sit in a bar and chat to people! There's going to be some casualties within the trade, and some businesses will snap up competitors and grow – that's the way of the beast – but at least from that we should still see employment.
When we reopen the key is that we do stay open. These false starts are more damaging.
When that happens, what will that mean for the Drinks Drop?
Before Covid hit the convenience sector was seeing significant growth anyway, and ready-to-drink cocktails were becoming more popular. Combine this with the rise of Deliveroo and Uber Eats, and that was filtering into the drinks market – that's not going anywhere.
And although we hope people will go out, when they are at home, there's no reason why they shouldn't order a box of cocktails to enjoy with friends.
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